We’ve all felt that sinking feeling when we think that our phone is lost, or worse, stolen. That feeling is often followed by one of relief when we find out that our phone hasn’t in fact been stolen or lost. But what if it were stolen, do you think it would be a good idea to track it down and go after the people who stole it? That’s exactly what 26-year old Sarah Maguire did.
After having a bit too much to drink on a Saturday night Maguire awoke the next morning to find that her iPhone was missing and so was here roommates. She couldn’t remember if they had left them at the bar or in the cab. She got on her computer, fired up Find My iPhone and located it at a home in West Covina, California which is some 30 miles east of her place in West Hollywood.
Maguire went to the house to confront the thieves who actually returned her iPhone. One might argue that the smart thing to do would have been to call the police. Some thieves might not be too welcoming if you turn up outside their house and that can lead to a potentially dangerous situation really fast. But Maguire says when she and her friend called the Los Angeles police they were instructed to head to West Covina themselves and call 911 if they felt threatened.
She then looked up the area on Google Maps which convinced her that it wasn’t too sketchy. “It wasn’t Compton, It was West Covina,” she tells the New York Times. There are countless other stories of people becoming GPS-vigilantes, despite how easy it is to track your phone, citizens should be doing what is essentially the police’s job. Wouldn’t the LAPD have been partly liable if it had indeed instructed Maguire and her friend to go down there themselves and something bad had happened?
San Francisco district attorney George Gascón reveals that this has actually become a new phenomenon and that it essentially opens up an “opportunity for people to take the law into their own hands.” While some like Maguire have been successful, “others have gotten hurt,” Gascón says.